The German automotive group Daimler kick started a sale of EADS shares as the aerospace company looks to reduce government influence wielded by France and Germany.
Daimler, which owns Mercedes-Benz, sold 61.1 million shares in EADS to Germany’s government-backed bank KfW, private shareholding group Dedalus Investors and international investors.
Daimler has long been seen as a proxy for the German government, an influence that led to the collapse of the merger with UK-based defence group BAE Systems in October.
The stake in EADS held by Daimler after the £1.4bn sale will amount to an approximate 7.5%.
France and Germany intend to build equal ownership positions, Germany and France agreeing to hold up to 12% each. KfW, the investment arm of the German State, now owns 5% of EADS. Spain has agreed to own no more than 4%.
This agreement aims to simplify the governance of EADS and create a shareholding structure that allows France, Germany and Spain to protect their legitimate strategic interests.
The three States have agreed that, upon the request of any of them, they would vote against a future change to a limited number of the new governance provisions.
Daimler and French media group Lagardère were provided with a path to sell their shares, with both companies heavy influenced by their respected governments.
Chief executive of EADS Tom Enders, blasted government influence after the collapsed merger with BAE Systems and has set up a share buy-back programme which Lagardère say will allow it to sell the majority of its 7.5% stake.
A first tranche of 7.5% buy-back is open, with 5.5% exclusively reserved Lagardère. If other shareholders do not exercise their right to sell then Lagardère will be able to sell its remaining 2%. A second tranche of up to 7.5% will be reserved to the public.